Our Forgiveness Blog

Your Unfolding Love Story

We have come to a new year. Let us gently move forward one year from now to January 1, 2013. Let us do a mental exercise and pretend that 2012 is now over—gone forever. What you have said and done has now gone out to others for good or for ill. Regrets? Guilt? Remorse? These could be part of the package as you reflect back on 2012 on the first day of 2013. How have you lived in 2012? What could you have done to make the world a more loving place?

Back to present-day January 2012…now is your chance to open the door of opportunity to this New Year. An opportunity to fulfill your January 1st, 2013 hopes and dreams that you just reflected on—to make them whole, peaceful, joyous and a reality. Despite the unforeseen trials and hardships, regardless of others’ injustices and unfairness, you have the power to make the year 2012 a triumph of love worth remembering and celebrating next January 1st of 2013.

You are not the master of your fate in that you can prevent the unwanted. You, however, do have a strong influence on all of this if you make a commitment with me now to love. 2012 will be the year that you grow in love, give love to others, give love to those whom you do not think necessarily deserve it. The kind of love connected to forgiveness is that which serves–out of concern for the other. You have within you now the capacity to give this love freely, without cost, without anyone earning it. Go ahead, try it. Give love away as your legacy of 2012.

How can you start? I recommend starting by looking backward at one incident of 2011. Please think of one incident with one person in which you were loved unconditionally, perhaps even surprised by a partner or a parent or a caring colleague. Think of your reaction when you felt love coming from the other and you felt love in your heart and the other saw it in your eyes. What was said? How were you affirmed for whom you are, not necessarily for something you did? What was the other’s heart like, and yours?

This kind of love will not necessarily be a two-way street in 2012. You may have to extend the love through forgiveness, a hard but joyous road. Forgiveness is part of your unfolding love story. Forgiveness, which serves the other through compassion and gentleness, is not always reciprocated. Yet, one thing is certain: When others reflect upon 2012 in early January, 2013, they will remember your kindness, your unconditional love, your forgiveness. They will see who you really are. And as for you? Well, you will have added a chapter to your unfolding love story. How do you think that will feel?

Welcome to 2012. The International Forgiveness Institute is here to support you as you add a new chapter to your book of life.

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A Reflection on Resolutions

Another year, another set of resolutions. While we are on the topic, I have a question for you: “What did you resolve in the new year on January 1, 2011?” A show of hands, please from all of you who even remember what you resolved to do or improve in the 2011 calendar year. Another question: “For those of you who do remember what you resolved on January 1, 2011, did you follow through with the resolution?”

The questions above were asked to test your strong will. By that I mean your inner determination and behavioral manifestation of staying the course, finishing the race. When was the last time you heard a thorough-going discussion of the strong will? We talk in society about free will and good will, but rarely about the strong will that helps us stay the course.

To forgive requires a free will to say yes to the path of mercy and love, a good will to embrace mercy in the face of unfair treatment, and a strong will so that you do not stop persevering in forgiveness. To persevere in forgiveness is one of the most important things you can do for your family, your community, and for yourself. Without the strong will, you could easily be like the rowboat, once tethered to the dock, now loosened from the moorings as it slowly drifts out to sea. As the cares of the world envelope you, the opportunity to cling to the forgiving life may slowly fade until you are unaware that the motivation to keep forgiving is gone.

This New Years Day, my challenge to you is to resolve to have a strong will as a forgiver. This means that you will remember what you resolved; you will follow through with the resolution. You have the opportunity to make a merciful difference in a world that seems not to have a strong enough collective will to keep forgiveness alive in the heart. The choice is yours. The benefits may surprise you.

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The Holidays and Heartache

Christmas, Hanukkah, Christian and Islamic New Years

Merry Christmas, Eight nights of joy, wishing you a year full of goodness

Peace, Shalom, As-Salamu Alaykum

Tis the season for family and joy……and some heartache. November, December and part of January are accompanied by celebrations in which a smile is worn on the face and an ache silently and privately is carried within the heart. For many, wherever there is family there is a mixture of joy and sadness on special occasions.

We are here at the International Forgiveness Institute, and at theinstitution of our first blog post, to let you know that there is a cause for great hope when the heart is aching. Forgiveness, of course, is no cure- all, but it is better in some ways than the heartburn medicine or headache remedies that are downed like water and food during the holiday season. Perhaps this is the year that you will take the following resolution seriously: I pledge to myself and to others on this site that I will take the first step to mend one broken relationship in my family or circle of friends. I will do my part to mend the broken heart of one member of my group.

How do you do that?

First, we recommend that you see your part in that one person’s broken heart. Have you contributed to his or her wounds? If so, make that resolution to go to the other with a warm heart and offer an apology for….well….whatever it is that you said or did. We recommend that you approach this courageous task with deep and gentle humility. After all, this is a holiday season when nerves are a bit more on edge, fatigue comes washing in upon us more readily, and our patience is thinner despite the warm words said and received. Therefore, expect some surprise from the other person. He or she may not be ready to receive your gift of apology. If this is the case, please try to bear their surprise, their ambivalence, their outright ignoring with a gentle strength. Your bearing up under the other person’s lack of readiness is yet another gift you can give this year—-not only to him or her but to others as you do not let your disappointment come rolling out of you to them. Rest in the knowledge that you have done a courageous, loving thing—-to bring peace.

Second, we recommend that you start one small process of forgiving one person in your close circle. Chose a person who has hurt you and choose to give him or her one gift this year—the gift of mercy wrapped up as forgiveness. Try to see him or her in a true context, as a person, someone who is unique, special, and irreplaceable. Someone who, like you, may be wounded inside. Someone who, like you, needs love in the heart. Be a love giver now, even if it is a struggle, even if you are apprehensive. Forgiveness quietly reaches out in this kind of ambivalence because it is strong. The love of forgiveness is stronger than any injustice that anyone has ever given to you. You might find that as you pledge to heal another person, the gift waiting for you is your own emotional healing as well.

It is time to love. It is time to love through forgiveness. Take the first step and let us know how it is going or how it went for you. We are here to listen and to help.

Peace, Shalom, As-Salamu Alaykum

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The Anti-New-Year’s Resolution!

Amber Flesch

We see them every year — but only for about a month, maybe up to three months for the real go-getters — that’s right, the New Year’s Resolutionaries!  They flood the gym and take over your treadmill, they hop on the latest diet-trend band wagon, gidgets and gadgets galore are gathered up for achieving new goals. Come about March or May those New Year resolutions lists and goal-reaching gadgets are scarce to be found, merely a memory. Sound familiar? Perhaps you’ve even been a NY Resolutionary yourself? I think we all have. Strong and steady with our brand-new, shine-y dreams and goals for a new year, until the first road bump knocks us down! “Aaah, well, at least I tried!” we sigh with resignation, “Maybe next year.”

How about if this year we all make an Anti-New-Year’s Resolution to reach our forgiveness goals? Let’s anticipate and prepare for our moment of weakness or “failure” – the point at which we fall down. Tripping up on life’s impending road blocks and obstacles is an imminent reality. We’ve heard it said before, “anything worth doing is worth doing wrong.” We all struggle, we all fall down. The only difference between those who fail and those who succeed, and what makes a hero is the getting back up! And you don’t have to wait for the dawn of a new year to get up and try again!

Whether it’s January 1st or June 11 does not matter! Brush yourself off and make an Anti-New-Year’s Resolution today and every day, realizing that each day is a new beginning, not just New Year’s Day. In fact, for a more positive twist (albeit a little cliché-sounding) let’s call it an “Every-Day’s-a-New-Day Resolution.”

Here are some concrete steps for your Every-Day’s-a-New-Day Resolution; “when” (not if) you fall down:

  1. Re-evaluate (What went wrong and why?)
  2. Re-strategize (How do I overcome this moving forward? What changes can I make?)
  3. Re-focus (What/who is my motivation?)
  4. Re-group (Who is my support team or advocate?)
  5. RE-Resolve! – NOW is the time to move forward with the persistence and patience of the tortoise closing in on the unsuspecting hare, with the stubbornness of a relentless mule, the ferocity and courage of a mother lioness protecting her young, the resilience of Rudolf forging through the meanest blizzard to guide Santa’s sleigh!

OK, seriously? Truly more inspiring than a tortoise or reindeer are these real-life, every-day forgiveness heroes:

Read about Frank who with his altruistic, giving nature, overcomes his struggles and frustrations over an unfair promotional system. Realizing that forgiveness is a work in progress, he motivates himself by focusing on the reason for his forgiving — his students. Who are people in your life who could use a hero like Frank? Who is your motivation to forgive?

Who are people in your life who could use a hero like Frank? Who is your motivation to forgive?

Draw inspiration from Margaret’s honest, self-revealing evaluation of the anger and resentment draining her energy and holding her thoughts captive. (Margaret’s Story) She is persistent and patient in her daily foot-race against this unhealthy anger.How long will this journey take? If you start today, you’ll be that much further ahead tomorrow. How often must I work towards forgiveness? Slow and steady wins the journey of forgiveness; freedom, hope, joy, and peace are some of the many rewards!

What are your forgiveness goals?

Are you wondering how to get started? Check out the 4 Phases of Forgiveness to guide you through the process

Make your goals concrete by sharing them with others on our forums page. This is a great way we can support each other in our ongoing Every-Day’s-a-New-Day Forgiveness Resolutions!

Make an effort today to start your goals and if you fall tomorrow, get up and try again! Have a Happy New Day!

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